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Given the overall pattern last week I could have chased a marginal setup every day. Instead I limited myself to every other day: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (yesterday). Yesterday’s action happened late in the day, coming after an afternoon of relaxing around the house while keeping an eye on radar.

I picked up my chase partner at 4:30 pm and rolled south on U.S. Route 220 to the Wirtz area. A persistent overcast had dampened convection much of the afternoon but when sunshine broke out updrafts began climbing. We stopped in Wirtz for a bit to watch and wait before picking out a rather vigorous looking cell south of us.

Taking rural roads to Rocky Mount we intersected VA Route 40 and motored west on it toward Ferrum. It became obvious both visually and on radar that we needed to head further south so we maneuvered over the ridgelines back to Route 220. Using highway speeds to get ahead of the slow moving convection we turned west at Martinsville on U.S. Route 58.

We stopped for a while at the Blue Ridge airport in Spencer to watch the cell develop.IMG_5158

This was our view…and it didn’t change much while we remained there as the cell anchored itself on some kind of boundary and kept regenerating on the southwest edge:

Blue Ridge airport view

When the storm gradually slipped further south and west we pulled up stakes and rolled even further west on Rte 58, stopping in Patrick county on a farm road to watch some more.Patrick county storm

It developed and redeveloped several rain-free bases on the southwest side, each of which vacuumed up scud for a while before weakening. This version was the most “expressive” of the bunch:

Patrick county storm lowering

As the afternoon wore into evening this storm weakened so we pushed back to Rte 220 and headed north. We ran into a multilayered shelf cloud from another cell near Oak Level but couldn’t find a decent vantage point.  A but further north we did stop under the shelf for a view of the whale’s mouth:Franklin county whales mouth

When this cell and shelf cloud dissipated we continued north to witness rain shafts and clouds underlit by the setting sun.

We didn’t witness any severe features but what we did see was worth every minute of the venture.

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